02 October 2010

Education Nation on NBC

"Education is the key to our future success as a country and the cornerstone of our democracy. Yet, we have allowed our students to fall behind. Sixty-eight percent of our eighth-graders can’t read at grade level. One-third of our students drop out of high school, and another third aren’t college-ready when they graduate." NBC Education Nation.

Hmmm... I'm sure George Washington et. al were sitting around fighting about standardized test scores and international competition when they were working on the Constitution.  (The "revisionist history" thing is why you haven't heard about this fact before.)  It was even *more* contentious than that whole banking and state debt issue.  In fact, I think that Hamilton got into a duel over whether the federal government should administer NAEPs or SATs or state tests or just let some publisher in Texas decide everything after it's admitted to the union... later.  It went something like that. 

Because education is THE CORNERSTONE OF DEMOCRACY, ok?  The cornerstone.  Without "education," you have no democracy.  And it follows that our students must "read at grade level," or democracy is in trouble.  *Whew.* It's a good thing these journalists are objective, or we'd be in some serious trouble!

I've seen a few blurbs here and there on the blogs about the "fair" treatment homeschoolers are getting in this special.  Um, yeah.  Headlines about homeschoolers no longer having a "stigma" because they're not all religious nutball radicals realllly helps out, guys.  Only *some* of them are religious wacko fundies, is the takeaway message.  But, hey.  Whatever.   Go have fun writing all that and fooling yourself that NBC is being all fair and balanced and stuff.  I still like you, and I'll still read your blog.  I just disagree.

But were there any homeschoolers on their godlike "panel" discussions?  No?  Oh.  Well, that's ok, given that we (allegedly) make up only about two percent of the populace.  But how about just plain old PARENTS?  Did the public school PARENTS get a spot up there with Arne Duncan and the reps from the teachers unions?  No?

Oh.

Teachers, though, had union reps.  And there were several teachers introducing panels and sitting on them.  But I guess they didn't defer entirely to the teachers, but actually allowed people like Michelle Rhee to say a few words here and there.  And we need to stop this ATTACK on public educators.  Waah, waah, waah.  Really!  Read an excerpt of this article:

"For the past week, the national media has launched an attack on American public education that is unprecedented in our history."

Do you hear that?  Unprecedented.

"NBC devoted countless hours"

Um, it isn't "countless."  You just didn't count.

..."to panels stacked with 'experts' who believe that public education is horrible because it has so many 'bad' teachers and 'bad' principals. The same 'experts' appeared again and again to call for privatization, breaking teachers' unions, and mass firings of 'bad' educators. Oprah devoted two shows to the same voices. The movie Waiting for 'Superman', possibly the most ballyhooed documentary of all time, explains patiently that poor test scores are caused by bad teachers, that bad teachers are protected for life by their unions, and that the answer to our terrible test scores is privatization."

It's interesting that teachers (or at least some of the people who claim to speak for them!) are circling the wagons on this one.  I've watched several of these discussions, and really?  Mostly they're just yapping about mayyyyybe sommmmeday firing some of the "ineffective" teachers, by which they mean teachers who can't get those test scores to improve.  But first... they'll put in "supports."  And "training."  And "mentorship programs."  And "blah."  And "blah."  And "blah." 

So... whatever.  It's just talk.  Much sound and fury signifying nothing.  I'm not too worried about it in any case.  It actually looked, from my vantage point, as though the TV folks took this publicly-funded education system thing as a GIVEN forever and ever, world without end and then had debates from there.  No real examination of the idea of publicly funded education was really launched.

But one parent actually had the audacity to stand up at the end of one of these sessions and ask welllll... WHY are there no PARENTS on the panel?  The answer was that "we can't have everyone in the world" on the panel, and some backhanded jabber about parents needing to be a "team" with the administrators and teachers blah blah, and we should ask parents if they have a DESK set up at home for the child to do homework! 

Ohhh, myyy, was that ever condescending.  "Can't invite everyone in the world" would suggest to me that only the most important people got to attend.  And parents?  Are extraneous.  And the very idea that student achievement goes RIGHT BACK to the parent and whether she had a stinkin' desk set up at home was really something.  (Because my children have no desks and are truly deprived, I'm a little snarky on this one.) 

Some members on this panel had just gotten finished stating that children in poverty need "wraparound services" and about 99999 billion dollars from the federal government and for cats and dogs to live in harmony in order to give schools the proper support... but parents?  Ah, in response to your question, they just need to set up a desk at home, do what the teacher says, and shut up.  Don't eeeeven ask to be on an important panel about educating your child.

(Good grief.  But unlike some, I'm not calling for a boycott, protest, or anything like that.  Let people say what they want to say!  Is someone's opinions on teacher effectiveness really that important?)

6 comments:

  1. The whole thing was a farce.

    Good analysis, Mrs. C.

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  2. I have to agree that some teachers are ineffectual or maybe it's just that they don't care. When I email or call teachers because I have a concern, I don't get any response. I can leave voicemails for days and never hear anything back.

    The teacher's here act as if the parents are stupid or lazy but aren't willing to help when asked.

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  3. Thanks, Terry!

    Christa, welcome! I've seen some teachers who were VERY good at getting back to me and others just like you've written about. And there really isn't a way to make them get back to you other than hounding them all the time... :)

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  4. Education is THE cornerstone of democracy, huh? This nation was conceived BEFORE compulsory education was a part of our paradigm, AND literacy rates in New England were HIGHER before compulsory education than they were at any point after it was instituted.

    And give me a break. An unprecedented attrack? Public schools, in general, suck. It's not an ATTACK, it's TRUE. I saw Michelle Rhee on Oprah and I thought she ROCKED. We need more people like her, and then maybe thing will improve. But they aren't after improvement, are they? Actions speak louder than words.

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  5. Mrs C - Homeschoolers may represent 2% of the population (allegedly). But charters represent about 3%...not that I have concern about proportional representation!

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  6. That's what I was thinking, Deb. Kinda why I was so snarky about it. But that's not to say education isn't important. The newspeople shouldn't be interjecting their opinion as TO its importance, however. :)

    Cinnamon, welcome! I don't see the whole fight on traditional public vs. charters myself as charters ARE public schools... as in... open to the public. But proportionally? They get half the press. Ha! :)

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)